The Alhambra is without doubt Granada’s main tourist attraction and one of the most important attractions in the whole of Spain too.
The Alhambra is well placed on the top of La Sabika hill over looking Granada.
The name Alhambra comes from al-qala’at al-hambra which simply means red castle! It has been a fortress since the 9th century, though in the 13th and 14th century it was also transformed into a palace by the Nasrids (visit the Nasrid palace inside the Alhambra complex).
In 1492 the Catholics took over Palacio Nazaries and turned the mosque into….have a guess…….that’s right: a catholic church. Then Carlos I decided to destroy a whole wing of the palace to make way for a renaissance palace.
The Palace was actually abandoned in the 18th century before being used as barracks by Napoleon when it was almost blown up!!!
Luckily it was declared a national monument in 1870 with help from Washinton Irving who wrote a book called Tales of the Alhambra.
I would advise seeing the Alhambra anytime of the year expect from June to September when it is absolutely packed and sometimes impossible to get tickets. I tried to go in September with my mum, but the queue was so long in the morning that they were only selling tickets for the afternoon while I was working! You can’t take good photos during this time of year either because you can’t take a photo without at least 10 brightly coloured tourists being in the shot too (this kind of ruins the atmosphere). There are plenty sunny days at other times of the year when you can get some good photos and unobscured views.
The Alhambra is open from 8:30 in the morning until 8:00 everyday during the summer and to six pm from October to March. The Palacio Nazaries doesn’t open until 10am but closes as late as 11:30 pm Tuesdays o Saturdays. Fridays to Sundays it is open 8-9:30.
As there are only 8000 tickets available per day it is advised to book well in advance during peak times of the year. You can buy tickets at the ticket office, by phoning the ticket office and paying by credit card, on the internet or in a BBVA bank. You can make telephone bookingsthrough the BBVA bank on: 902 224 460 from Spain or through web site.
To get there take the number 32 bus from the Albaicin, Gran Via, Plaza Nueva or Cuesta de Gomerez.
The different parts of the Alhambra to see are: The Alcazaba (the old Muslim fortress), Palacio Nazaries,Palacio de Carlos V and the Generalife (gardens). You also get a great view of the Albaicin. It really is worth the time and effort as well as the money.
A must See activity in Spain, but remember: don’t neglect the rest of Granada. It I a VERY interesting town!
The Alhambra is the most visited site in Spain and a visit to Granada without seeing it is, well, incomprehensible! It's like a step back in time if you let your imagination play, you can visualize the harem girls, the smell of spices, the haughty rulers reclined on cushions....
The name Alhambra comes from the Arabic for "Red Castle". The original purpose of this complex, set high on top a hill overlooking the Darro River, was as a fortress, later turned into a lavish palace by the Moors. Even though the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, captured the Alhambra from the Moors in the Reconquista in the late 1400s, they hired a Muslim to restore the decoration of the Nasrid Palace so that visitors can still see it today as it was.
Parts of the Alhambra are open and free to all visitors but there are three sections that can be visited only with a ticket, the summer palace and gardens known as Generalife, the Alcazaba (fortress) and the Nasrid Palace which you are given a strict 1/2 hour time slot in which to enter. I'd HIGHLY recommend that you purchase your tickets well in advance of your visit.
Follow along with my tips as I take you on a journey through the Alhambra.....
The Palacio del Partal was particularly impressive because it is slightly separated from the remainder of the Alhambra and you can get a good look at it from a distance, especially from its upper terrace as seen in this view. The majestic palm trees, beautiful landscaping and a mirror smooth pool perfectly reflecting the Moorish arches behind made this my favourite spot so far in the Alhambra!
Built in the period 1302-1309, this palace is one of the oldest in the Alhambra and, in typical style, has the requisite number of decorative arches as well as the Las Damas viewing tower and a small balcony above. As with most other buildings in the Alhambra, the Palacio del Partal is situated on the edge of the cliff above Granada so, if you get tired of looking at the pool you can always gaze out over the city! After trying to get some decent photos of the pool in the challenging bright sunshine/dark shadows lighting, we climbed the stairs to see for ourselves what the views were like from above (last photo). The early morning tour crowds in late December were not bad at all, so we lingered there for a while enjoying the moment before continuing onward as we left the Alhambra part of our tour.
a lot of people don't know that you can visit the alhambra at night. seeing this beautifully detailed landmark at night is just as unforgettable an experience as seeing it in the daytime.
to get a total feel of this most beautiful palace, MAKE SURE YOU VISIT THE ALHAMBRA AT NIGHT!
I have never been to Granada, Spain before so really I had little knowledge of what to do and see there. Then I learned about the "Alhambra" and a bit of reading up prior to my visit helped me to understand a bit of the Spanish history. Here is a brief overview of the Alhambra and its illustrious history.
The Alhambra is the most famous example of Moorish architecture. It is the best conserved Arabian palace of its period. "Alhambra" translated means "red castle" and this may have been coined from the red glow of the torches on the walls which were used at night to light the Alhambra.
In the 11th century the Alhambra started out as a fortress or a "alcazaba" then it was modified in the 13th century by Muhammad III and throughout the centuries the different palaces of the Alhambra were then built by several rulers, each using his own idea and architectural style. The idea behind several of the buildings of Alhambra is nothing less than an attempt to create a duplicate of an Earthly Paradise.
The Alhambra consists of 3 parts: The Royal Palace, which is the most famous with the Mexuar, the Serallo and the Harem, where the Lions' Court is the centre. then there are the gardens of Generalife and the fortress of Alcazaba.
It is imperative that you purchase your tickets ahead of time so you can see this beautiful structure.
Here is another web address that you may find helpful. http://granadainfo.com/ticketsalhambra.htm
There are buses that run regularly up to the Alhambra or you can do what we did...hike up but this is a very steep climb so wear good shoes, use sunscreen and take plenty of water with you.
Of course, we all come to Granade to see the Alhambra, don't we? I wondered whether it would be a real tourist trap, packed with loud visitors and expensive gifts.
However, I can honestly say it is a fabulous collection of forts, palaces, gardens and views. Even in November. My one regret is not seeing the place in the summer heat, where its water, foliage and shade must work at their best.
For only 10 euros you get at least half a day in the Generalife Gardens, Alcazabar Castle, Nasrid Palace and everything in-between. I found that gave me plenty of time, getting there around 9am and leaving at 2pm. The improtant thing to remember is you must enter the fabulous Nasrid Palace during the time-slot on your ticket. And if you have a morning ticket, you will not be able to enter some of the other locations after 2pm.
There is a limit each day on the number of visitors. Though I saw several big coach parties arriving before 9am, the place is so big that it does not feel crowded. OK, crowds increased in the Nasrid Palace but, to me, that is all part of the experience :-)
There is also a Museum wrapped around a stunning marble-pillared circular courtyard (this, I believe, is FREE if you are a citizen of the European Union). And two hotels within the walls. And several shops. And lots of resident pussy cats :-))
I just wonder how many billions of digital photos exist of this place. It is difficult to take bad photos, the detail of the Nasrid Palace is so intricate, the colours in the gardens are so vibrant, and the views of Granada and the mountains are so good.
Do remeber to try and buy your tickets in advance (see website or other tips here). And take a guide book, or obtain a audio headset - there isn't much information at all on display inside the Alhambra.
The ALHAMBRA was built in the 13th century. This palace and fortress is widely regarded as one of Spain's finest tributes to Islamic architecture. I regard it as a must see. Our good friend Carmen made reservations ahead of time as we did'nt want to go all the way there and be disappointed if we couldn't get tickets. It was very busy on the day we went there, which is quite common. Tickets were 8.00Euros per person plus a commission. Reservations are scheduled every half hour and the time is printed on your ticket. They are very strict about letting you in only during your time slot.
Your ticket will let you into the Palaces, the Alcazaba and the Generalife Gardens.
The Alhambra is a precious jewel , loved and respected by many.
The Alhambra is a city by itself. This area is built on a hill and surrounded by walls. I was told that Alhambra means Red Palace in Arabic.
It consists of several main parts, surrounded by even more nice places. The most important elements are:
- The Alcazaba (the fortress)
- Palacio de los Nazaries (the Nasrid palace), which is for most people the most spectacular part.
- Palacio Carlos V (the newest and least interesting part of the Alhambra)
- The Generalife Gardens, which lie on another hill, slightly to the side.
Due to its popularity, the number of tickets per day for the Alhambra is said to be limited. Tickets can be purchased either at the entrance or booked in advance through branches of the BBV bank, even outside of Spain. Many people go very early in the morning to buy tickets and come back later during the day for their visit. We simply showed up at 10am and had no problems buying them.
Important to know is that your ticket is checked when entering the different parts of the Alhambra. WHAT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IS THAT WHEN YOU BUY A TICKET, IT INDICATES A SPECIFIC HALF HOUR TIMESLOT DURING WHICH YOU CAN ENTER THE NASRID PALACE. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO ENTER THIS PART OUTSIDE THIS TIMESLOT. Once inside you can stay in this part for as long as you like.
When we bought the ticket in the morning, we first visited the rest of the Alhambra and visited the Nasrid Palace at about 2pm (which was the timeslot on our ticket). The advantage is that you save the best for last.
At the end of the afternoon we visited the Generalife Gardens which are located a bit further away.
We had booked our Alhambra trip over the internet (13 Euros per person) only about a week before we were due to arrive, deciding that 9:30 AM on a Saturday morning would suit us better than an afternoon visit. However, after our previous day adventures in actually finding our hostal (located at the foot of the steep hill leading up to the Alhambra) we did not properly discuss the logistics of getting up in the morning for our visit (supposed to be there at 8:30 AM). We awoke at 7:45 AM, so there was a bit of a rush and no breakfast for us as we left Hostal Landazuri and hiked upward on its street - headed for the Alhambra that we could already see above us!
It turned out to be a crisp winter day with bright blue skies, very pleasant to view and also helping to keep us cool as we made our 'high-speed' walk up the hillside. It was only supposed to be a 10-15 minute walk anyway, so we were soon through the lower gate of the fortifications - Puerta de las Granadas. While I surged off ahead to get into the ticket line at the highest gate (Torre del Agua) to redeem our coupons, the ladies took a more leisurely approach. By chance, they happened to fall into step with a lone Canadian, Sunny, who was working for an engineering firm at Canary Wharf in London and was on his own for a weekend getaway (in the evening of the same day, we again met by chance - see my 'Local Customs' tip).
As it turned out, Saturday morning on December 20 was not busy, so there was no problem getting our tickets and then making the nice walk part way back downhill inside the Alhambra's walls as we enjoyed the beautifully manicured trails. We were not late after all and I was glad of our tour choice after witnessing the difference in the size of the afternoon crowds!
There is no conqueror but God. The Moors were hugely religious, and decorated the walls with phrases from the Koran. This one says "Wa-la-ghaliba illa-Llah" which translates into "There is no conqueror but God".
This phrase was also the reponse used by one of the Moorish rulers when his people called him Mansur (meaning Victor).
When you are wandering around a strange place with strange writing on the walls, if you can understand some of what it says, it does help to make a place more interesting!
I am not even going to try to describe the Alhambra. I have neither the language skills nor the descriptive ability.
What I do want to mention is that one really should buy tickets in advance on line. The number of tickets sold on the day are limited and the lines are very, very long.
With my pre-ordered printed out voucher I was able to go into the little side room with the machines that exchange a voucher for a ticket on the spot. There are people there that help with the process. They speak a number of languages, including English. The whole thing took me less than 5 minutes.
When you get off the bus follow the signs. Don't join the long line. Off to the right is a large glass enclosed room with 10 machines that produce your ticket. You must insert the same credit card that you used to purchase the ticket on the internet.
Then go out to the *end* of the area and turn right at the gate for the Audio Guide (Euro 3.50). Mine suggested beginning at the Alcazaba, but as I had only 1/2 an hour I chose a short visit to the minor palace instead. Didn't have time to enter the museum. All that I did after the visit to the Nasrid Palaces.
When ordering your ticket on line be aware that they are very strict about the hour to enter the Nasrid Palaces. Plan your trip so that you have at least an hour between arrival at the site and entry into the Palaces. You can visit the other parts of the Alhambra first or afterward, but do get to the entry of the Nasrid Palaces at least 15 minutes prior to your entry hour, as printed on your ticket.
The best site to get full information and to purchase your ticket is: http://www.alhambradegranada.org/guias/alhambraEntradas_en.asp
Read it carefully and follow the links for a trouble free purchase!
The link for purchasing you ticket directly from caixa is:
All my Al Hambra photos here: The Alhambra
The fortress section of the Alhambra has pretty much disintegrated over time and only portions of the massive walls are left. It was on these towers that the Spanish flag was raised following the 7 month siege and defeat of the last of the Moorish Nasrid rulers. From these walls, however, there are picturesque views of the city of Granada.
It was about 11:30 AM by the time we had walked the remainder of the way to the Generalife. It was there that we then turned to look look back at the distant Alhambra - over the intervening gardens in an area that used to be a ravine until it was filled in many centuries ago. The whole idea of the Generalife grounds and buildings was to have a nearby relaxed 'country estate' situation where royalty could escape from the more formalized life required while in the Alhambra.
From there we also had a good view of St. Mary's Church which is located almost beside Palacio Carlos V and was built by the Catholics over a 37-year period between 1581-1618, rubbing things in a bit by situating it on the former site of the Alhambra’s Great Mosque. The floor plan is shaped like a simple Latin Cross, with a single nave. The exterior Renaissance style appearance of the church is not as ornate as the original plans called for, but combined with its nice bell tower, I liked the lines of its overall modest yet classy appearance (2nd photo).